I finally got a chance to use my new baking dishes with the silicone lids and I’m very pleased. So pleased that I might have to make a non-birthday trip to Ikea to get the larger ones. I didn’t make anything fancy.
I drizzled a bit of olive oil on some asparagus, snapped the lid on, and popped it in the Sun Oven. The lid fits so snuggly that I was afraid it would trap too much moisture and the spears would be soggy, but after an hour or so in the Sun Oven on a partially cloudy day they came out just fine.
The black lid does make it pretty much impossible to see what’s going on, however, I knew they were ready by the tell-tale condensation build up on the cooking chambers glass door.
Most Sun Oven cooking is done in a covered pot. This is to keep the moisture in the food from fogging up the glass door which lowers the temperature of the cooking chamber. But I’ve found that some faster cooking foods, such as vegetables, come out better if left uncovered. Even without a lid they tend to be done by the time the glass fogs up and since the steam isn’t trapped in the pot they come out a little crispier.
Today I put it to the test with two batches of asparagus and acorn squash. There wasn’t any noticeable difference between the covered squash and the uncovered, but the uncovered asparagus came out slightly browned and with a pleasant crunch to it and the covered batch did not.
Covered or uncovered, it’s a good idea to set a timer when solar cooking spring vegetables, unlike meats and stews that seem to get better the longer they cook in the Sun Oven, delicate greens can overcook and get soggy.
Asparagus solar baked in parchment paper comes out evenly cooked without being mushy or floppy. Ideally it should be baked at a low temperature, around 200ºF, for about 90 minutes. Keeping the Sun Oven at such a low temperature requires a bit of attention, it needs to be focused slightly away from the sun and adjusted every 30 minutes or so. If you get distracted the temperature could drop or increase too much. But with a little patience you’ll be rewarded with deliciously crisp spears infused with whatever seasoning you choose. For a quick lunch spread some asparagus on a sheet of parchment paper, drizzle them with olive oil, season with tarragon, toss in some sliced prosciutto and mushrooms. Using a stapler (or kitchen string if you prefer) make a pouch. Bake at 200ºF for 90 minutes. Serve over whole-wheat couscous. Experiment with different seasonings and don’t worry if the GSO gets too hot, it will cook a little faster but will still be delicious.
This casserole is better than it looks in the picture. It can be served as a side dish or paired with solar roasted squash to make a nice vegetarian main course. Broccoli can be used in place of the asparagus.
Asparagus and Brown Rice Casserole
2 cups brown rice
4 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces neufchatel cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine water, rice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a dark pot, cover and place in Global Sun Oven. Cook until the rice is tender. About 1 hour.
While the rice is cooking heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add celery and onion and sauté until the onions are translucent. About 5 mimutes. Add the asparagus, stir to combine and saute for another 3 minutes.
Add the cheese to the skillet, breaking it up as stirring to coat the vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the vegetable cheese mixture with the rice and fresh basil in a large bowl.
Spread the mixture in an oiled casserole dish, cover tightly with tin foil and a dark tea towel. Place in Global Sun Oven and bake until heated through. Serve hot.
Makes 6 servings